Francis Cabrel: In Extremis

cabrel2 C’est la Vie

Listening Post 35. Throughout his 40-year career, Francis Cabrel—the greatest French singer-songwriter of his generation—has woven strands of folk, blues, jazz, rock and pop into iconic songs of relationships, protest and social commentary. On his 13th studio album, he is in fine form, casting a mature artist’s eye on romantic and paternal love, politics, heroism, xenophobia, war and faith—in short, on life. Dur comme fer (Hard as Iron), lampoons politicians: “The speaker says he’ll change our lives,” he observes, “but in his gilded palace he’s likely to forget us” (video 1). The album’s featured hero appears in Mandela, pendant ce temps (Mandela, Meanwhile…), where jail time is measured against freedom: “My child,” the lyric asks, “think of everything you have done in your 27 years/Imagine, all this time, Mandela on his prison cot” (video 2). The bonus track Les fontaines du jazz (The Wellsprings of Jazz) pays homage to idols like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald (video 3), while the title track, In Extremis (At the Last Moment), highlights a favorite cause—the defense of Occitan, a romance language struggling to survive in southern France. Dans chaque coeur (In Every Heart) describes Jesus on the cross—inspired, Cabrel says, by his Catholicism and also by the modern hymns of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Like the composers he admires, Cabrel’s own songs have become the soundtrack of countless lives. (Chandelle Productions)

 


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